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Privacy and the Hustings

Do election candidates have a right to privacy?

In Ireland, the right to privacy is one of the unenumerated personal rights entitled to constitutional protection.

In putting themselves forward for election it is clear that they can be taken to have, to put it mildly, waived their right to privacy. This has been expressly recognised as possible in McGrory v ESB [2003] IESC 45. There, the plaintiff had been injured in an accident and refused to be medically examined by the defendant’s medical advisor.

The Supreme Court ruled this was not permissible where the plaintiff had availed of recourse to the courts for relief for the injury. The price of the recourse was the loss of some privacy. (Personal injury trials are heard in public).

The European Court of Human Rights, although it has recognised that a public figure, particularly a politician, has a lower right to privacy than other persons, has adjudged that a public figure does not lose the right to privacy entirely.

In Von Hannover v Germany EctHR (24th June 2004) the court found the applicant’s right to privacy had been breached because the published material related exclusively to the applicant’s private life.